(POP0017)

 

 

Written evidence submitted by the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (POP0017)

1. This response is submitted by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire to reflect policing priorities in North Yorkshire and York.

Summary

2. Overall, current policing priorities in North Yorkshire and York are focused around prevention, early intervention, increasing public trust and confidence and working collaborative with partners to address the root causes of offending. There are pockets of rurality within the county of North Yorkshire so to ensure public trust and confidence in these areas is enhanced there is a particular focus for Neighbourhood Policing Teams to work with the local community.  It may therefore be essential that these Teams are prioritised as a specialism due to the skills and knowledge base required to work effectively in a rural policing context.

3. Working collaboratively with local criminal justice agencies can also help to improve national conviction rates, including accessing early CPS advice in rape cases, as outlined in the Directors Guidance on Charging (DG6).

What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like;

A customer service focus - Accessible and trusted by the public

 

4. A modern police service should be accessible for all people and all communities in both emergency responses as well as, prevention work and other policing concerns. Current challenges in terms of ensuring this, include the challenges with 999 and 101 volumes and consequent call response times, which often leave the public feeling that they are unable to contact and access police timely. Nationally there has been as significant increase in call volumes, which locally equates to an increase of 2,066 between April and August 2022 for 999 and 2,714 for 101. This caused significant disruption to the force control room and created a negative impact in terms of call response and handling times therefore extra resourcing was put into place to maintain the service standard.

 

5. Not only is accessibility important but so is the standard of customer service received. The policing response should also be to a high standard, so victims of crimes feel listened to, supported and believed. We found this was particular concerns amongst the public and survivors of Violence Against Women and Girls “VAWG offences, when consulting on our Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy victims didn’t feel believed by officers in the first instance and this impacted their trust and confidence in the police and support for the investigation going forward. This approach should also ensure a modern police force has a culture of openness, integrity and professionalism

 

 

 

6. This also impacts public trust and confidence in policing. As an example, the National Rural Crime Network found that in rural areas, confidence, and as a result reporting, dropped in relation to police visibility and perception of the efficacy of response and timeliness of updates on investigations.

Prevention focused

7. A modern police force should also focus on prevention work first, with the aim that as prevention work increases the need to respond to crime should decrease, as less crime should take place. This approach is featured in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan, under the C.A.R.E principles (Caring about the vulnerable, Ambitious Collaboration, Realising our potential and Enhancing our services for the Public) and the priority of working as a trusted partner to prevent harm and damage, intervene early and solve problems.  Examples of this approach taken in North Yorkshire include the Early Action Together (EAT) programme which is the vehicle of change, led by the Chief Constable, to release capacity, create opportunity and support officers and staff to have the skills to change the way the force works over a long term period. It is focusing on working with other organisations to find the best solutions for the community and identified best practise, to make process easier and more efficient. There are four key projects within the programme which are: Customer contact, Pathways, Place -based working and Intelligence. Pathways, for example will enable officers to have a mobile app that informs them of all the referral pathways option that could be used, they can then decide which is the most appropriate for that case in aiming to prevent future reoffending and criminality.

 

8. The Public Safety Service pilot sees public services collaborating to deliver place-based prevention services through a multi-agency Public Safety Officer role. This model takes an outcomes led, public health approach, it is not focusing on “quick solutions” but addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability that could lead to harm, whether this is crime, fire or health related. Public Safety Officers have a range of skills, some more experienced in particular fields dependent on community needs. All have an ambulance first responder element to the role. For policing, the overall aim is to prevent the underlying causes of crime and other incidents, to support the safety of the community, and to be a visible presence in more rural communities who may feel distanced from blue light services.

Evidence-based and led by Intelligence

 

9. Policing should be led by evidence-based policing, best practise and “what works” to ensure the right approach is taken to address challenges and that solutions are proven to have positive impacts. In North Yorkshire, this approach is set out in the force’s Prevention and Early Intervention strategy and has led the approach to developing the force’s new drugs strategy.

Collaborative

 

10. Policing should be collaborative in the sense that the force can effectively work with partners to tackle multi-agency issues and wider societal problems that impact on policing. This focus is also supported in the Police and Crime Plan through the C.A.R.E principles, in which A stand for Ambitions Collaboration. This principle encourages partnership working to take a whole system approach to address the root cause of criminality not just the police response. Again by preventing criminality at its root, this may reduce the need for policing response later. The Road safety partnership could be an example of the police working alongside fire and rescues and local authority colleagues to address road safety, with the aim of achieving vision zero. This endeavours to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serios injuries on roads in North Yorkshire through improving the safety of road users and the roads themselves, post crash response and educating road users to keep their vehicles safe.

 

11. Other examples of collaboration in North Yorkshire would include Evolve and Enable, Evolve offers joint legal service provision for Durham, Cleveland and North Yorkshire for police. Likewise, enable covers enabling service functions for both NYP, NYFRS and the OPFCC. By sharing joint services and resources, the aim is not only work more collaboratively but more effectively and efficiently and saving on duplicating resources, as covered in the Police and Crime Plan.

What balance police forces in England and Wales should strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions;

 

12. Policing should focus on policing proactively – balancing preventative and responsive elements and taking a forward looking attitude to all their functions. This is not just about planned operations as is often meant in policing, but about an attitude which places an emphasis on acting proactively to prevent future or further harm. This might be working in a community to address vulnerability to prevent crime; it might mean referring a victim for safeguarding to stop future harm occurring. It means trying to always think ahead as to what the problem might be, and trying to solve that today. An example of this could be the enhanced problem-solving approach adopted as part of the Early Action Together (EAT) place-based working programme of work, which uses the SARA model for problem solving, scanning, analysis, response and assessment, which allows problem solving plans to be implemented effectively to proactively improve policing response and address challenges communities are facing.

13. Prevention may also be key to modern policing, as through the increase in prevention activity now, over time the need for a police response may reduce, releasing capacity of police officers and reducing the demand they face. Working collaboratively in this space makes sense, as often underlying causes of crime are also those of other societal issues. The Public Safety Service pilot sees public services collaborating to deliver place-based prevention services through a multi-agency Public Safety Officer role. This model takes an outcomes led, public health approach, it is not focusing on “quick solutions” but addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability that could lead to harm, whether this is crime, fire or health related. Public Safety Officers have a range of skills, some more experienced in particular fields dependent on community needs. All have an ambulance first responder element to the role.  For policing, the overall aim is to prevent the underlying causes of crime and other incidents, to support the safety of the community, and to be a visible presence in more rural communities who may feel distanced from blue light services.

14. The Commissioner has also commissioned two diversion schemes, Crossroads for adults and Change Direction for young people. Both schemes have elements aimed to divert and prevent future offending.

15. The Crossroads Adult Diversion scheme, provided by Humankind, has a goal to prevent or intervene early to divert people from the criminal justice process by addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour. The overall aims of the Adult Crossroads Diversion scheme are to:

16. The Crossroads Adult Diversion scheme works with women and men aged 18+ to offer trauma-informed support to address underlying causes of offending. Each individual will receive a tailored support package, the intensiveness of which will be responsive to their assessed needs. A dedicated keyworker will be allocated who will provide direct interventions, advocate and signpost into specialist agencies where necessary.

17. The scheme has two elements:

18. The Change Direction Young People’s Diversion scheme, provided by North Yorkshire Youth, has a goal to prevent or intervene early to divert young people from the criminal justice process by addressing the underlying causes of their offending behaviour. The overall aims of the Change Direction Young People’s Diversion scheme are to:

19. The Change Direction Diversion scheme works with young people aged 10-17, to offer trauma-informed support to address underlying causes of offending. Each individual will receive a tailored support package, the intensiveness of which will be responsive to their assessed needs. A dedicated keyworker will be allocated who will provide direct interventions, advocate and signpost into specialist agencies where necessary.

20. The Change Direction Young People’s Diversion scheme is for 10-17 year olds who may be at risk of entering the Criminal Justice System or are known to North Yorkshire Police. The scheme will engage with young people, at an early stage before criminal behaviour becomes habitual, to improve circumstances for both the young person and the local community. The young person’s engagement with the Change Direction scheme will be on a voluntary basis. The scheme is open to those who are not offending or have been involved in antisocial behaviour or committed very low level offences. Various agencies may be working with young people at this stage, and any agency can refer to the scheme

21. The Commissioner also contributes financially to the North Yorkshire County Council Public Health contract, to deliver integrated substance misuse treatment services to both adults and young people across North Yorkshire. The contribution supports the Criminal Justice elements of provision and wider partnership working across the Criminal Justice System. The adult substance misuse service is provided by North Yorkshire Horizons and the young people’s service is provided by Humankind. The integrated service is available to individuals with problematic drug or alcohol use. The criminal justice element of the service is available to individuals in police custody and upon release from prison for those where substance misuse is a contributing factor to their offending. Those entering treatment through a criminal justice pathway will receive the same level, type and quality of service offer as any other resident would expect when entering the treatment journey through any other pathway. The service offers one to one support, group work, substitute prescribing, health screenings and blood tests and vaccinations. The aim of the criminal justice element of the substance misuse service is to be able to identify where substance misuse is a factor in someone’s offending, addressing those issues that lead to offending and to provide diversion options which in turn are anticipated to reduce overall re/offending rates. The overall aim of the substance misuse service is to enable individuals with problematic drug and / or alcohol use to become free of their addiction, promoting recovery, abstinence and harm reduction. Individuals can be referred at various points in the criminal justice process including by police, courts, prison and probation.

22. The Commissioner also contributes financially to the City of York Council Public Health contract, to deliver substance misuse treatment services to adults and young people in the city of York. The contribution supports the Criminal Justice elements of provision and wider partnership working across the Criminal Justice System. The service is delivered by Changing Lives. The service is available to local adults and young people in York who are affected by drug or alcohol misuse. The criminal justice element of the service is available to individuals in police custody and upon release from prison for those where substance misuse is a contributing factor to their offending. Those entering treatment through a criminal justice pathway will receive the same level, type and quality of service offer as any other resident would expect when entering the treatment journey through any other pathway. The service offers one to one and group support, community alcohol detoxification, substitute prescribing and support to friends and family. The aim of the criminal justice element of the substance misuse service is to be able to identify where substance misuse is a factor in someone’s offending, addressing those issues that lead to offending and to provide diversion options which in turn are anticipated to reduce overall re/offending rates. The overall aim of the substance misuse service is to support individuals to work towards abstinence and support ongoing recovery.

What roles police forces should prioritise;

 

23. There has been a significant increase in incidence of sexual and violent crimes. Prioritising safeguarding roles is therefore vital to ensure that these crimes are effectively managed and prevented. This is particularly important given the national focus on violence against women and girls crimes.

24. However, in North Yorkshire, the Commissioner believes that greater prioritisation of Neighbourhood Policing roles is essential, moving towards properly recognising these roles as a specialism in their own right. Too often, officers get abstracted from neighbourhood policing teams into ‘specialist’ teams, which seems to negate the level and range of skills and aptitudes required to competently deliver neighbourhood policing. Local officers need to be able to recognise the whole gamut of vulnerabilities and act appropriately. They are the spearhead of prevention work, community engagement, problem-solving and visible policing, yet they are not protected as other teams so often are. Moreover it is these roles which are key to reassuring victims and improving public trust and confidence. This is set out as a priority within the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.

What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards;

 

25. Increasing presence and engagement in community, particularly in rural areas may help to increase trust in the community. The National Rural Crime Network found that in rural areas, confidence, and as a result reporting, dropped in relation to police visibility and perception of the efficacy of response and timeliness of updates on investigations. This presence and engagement may also assist in terms of prevention and early intervention and deterring crime before it happens, overall keeping communities safer. It is important to recognise the challenges policing a rural area can bring in footprint, travel times, estate and infrastructure, all of which makes enhancing engagement and presence harder, ultimately requiring more resource and therefore more funding. Innovative schemes like the Public Safety Service pilot has demonstrated the positive impact present and visible resources can have on community confidence and reporting and is an example of an approach used to increase support for rural areas which requires additional funding.

26. Likewise, improving the customer service focus within policing may help with both trust and confidence and addressing issues where police officer behaviour has fallen below standards. The office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) often receives concerns from the public about the timeliness of updates and so this increased customer service focus could help focus on providing regular updates to victims so they are informed and supported through the criminal justice process. Likewise, the customer service focus could also be implemented in the complaint's procedure itself, as this is often an complex process. In North Yorkshire we were the first area to adopt Model-3 under the Police (Complaints) Regulations 2020 so all complaints are received into the office, reviewed and service recovered where possible by the OPFCC before being referred to the Professional Standard Department (PSD). This has enabled us to drive a customer service focus in the handling of complaints, managing to service recover 80% of complaints, with a 93% satisfaction rate. It would help if under these regulations Commissioner’s had the authority to recommend the Reflective Practice Review Process (RPRP), as this would help to improve the service recovery rate further. No additional disciplinary powers are necessary.

27. North Yorkshire Police have also introduced a initial enquires team (IET) in order to improve the customer contact approach and allow for early triage to get individuals the right person right support the first time and to use front line resources more effectively. This team should also help improve public trust and confidence by improving the initial policing response.

Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner; and

 

28. Ensuring that public trust and confidence of the metropolitan police is addressed so that it doesn’t have negative impact on the perception of other forces or policing nationally.

 

What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service.

 

29. Outcomes in rural and urban areas have been found to be different in North Yorkshire. Perhaps not significantly but rural outcomes are often lower nonetheless. 13% of urban cases in North Yorkshire resulted in a charge/summonsed outcome as opposed to 9% of rural cases and so perhaps there should be focus in terms of location of cases in order to help improve conviction rates. Likewise, digital technology may also be another focus, for example CCTV, in order for digital evidence to be more easily transferred between services and authorities and increase the likelihood of conviction.

30. To improve national conviction rates, evidence led prosecutions should be a focus, to promote prosecution where a victim may not support it, but there is sufficient evidence available. This would need to be managed appropriately to balance the victim’s wishes not to support a prosecution and the prosecution potentially still continuing, However, overall it may an effective tool for prosecuting offences and reducing crime and reoffending in the future. An HMCPSI and HMICFRS Joint Inspection recommends that for domestic abuse cases Police forces should ensure that training, messaging, and guidance promotes that evidence led prosecutions should benefit from the same quality investigation and other domestic abuse cases and prosecutions should set it in domestic abuse cases whether at the charging stage, if evidence led prosecution if viable of and define as an effective prosecution strategy.

31. Likewise, the 6th Edition of the Directors Guidance on Charging (DG6) promotes the use of early investigation advice from CPS in Rape and Serious Sexual Assault (RASSO cases), where it is likely the full code test can be met. By promoting the use of early advice this may help improve the quality and timelines of investigations as well as informing officers if a charge from CPS is likely or not, which may improve the chance of convictions later in the criminal justice system. This may be especially important where there is forensic evidence and there is a short window for this evidence to be collected and stored appropriately. This issue was discussed in the Local Rape Scrutiny panel, which is also an effective mechanism used by North Yorkshire Police to review cases which received a NFA outcome, to understand organisational learning as well as highlighting opportunities to reopen recent cases if appropriate and could lead to new evidence to help gain a conviction outcome.

32. Overall, by police and CPS proactively working together through Local Criminal Justice Partnership forums, for example, this may help understand gaps in performance and areas for improvement which can help drive delivery and improve criminal justice outcomes.

October 2022

 

Appendix:

Road Safety Strategy- https://www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/content/uploads/2021/12/Safer-Roads-Strategy-Dec-2021.pdf

 

Police and Crime Plan - https://www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/content/uploads/2022/05/Police-Crime-Plan-2022-25.pdf

 

HMCPSI and HMICFRS – Evidence led domestic abuse prosecution inspection- https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/cjji/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/01/Joint-Inspection-Evidence-Led-Domestic-Abuse-Jan19-rpt.pdf

 

National Rural Crime Network- Survey -2015- https://www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net/content/uploads/2015/09/NRCN-National-Rural-Crime-Sur...pdf

 

VAWG Strategy - https://www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/womenandgirls/our-strategy/

 

DG6- https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/charging-directors-guidance-sixth-edition-december-2020

 

North Yorkshire OPFCC website- commissioned services- https://www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/for-you/services/commissioned-services/